A Big Small World

Honestly, I’ve been waiting for this to happen. After treating my body like a wastebasket for alcohol, cigarettes, and Turkish kebabs this past month, I’ve come down with a cold. Symptoms include: minor headaches, coughing, and a large dose of sobriety. That’s right, folks. I’ve given up alcohol this entire weekend (gasp). “Jason, why are you being so lame? You’re in Budapest to have all kinds of fun and games and shit!” Yes, I know, I know. But my inconsistent weight training and vampiric sleeping habits are draining the life out of me. At the very least, this break gives me an opportunity to reflect on my time here, garner the remaining intellectual prowess I may still have in that noggin of mine, and produce a somewhat-deep development of thought. So here goes nothing…

Every once in a while, a profound thought will bash into me like a semi-truck colliding into a brick wall. Or maybe like an unexpected slap in the face by a woman friend who is ever so slightly dissatisfied with your mischief. You get the point. Either way, it is an instant at which I’m able to mentally capture the significance of what’s presently occurring. This profound thought typically materializes during situations in which I am surrounded by several of my closest friends in Budapest who are from across the globe. We’re all able to communicate with each other, and though conversations aren’t as natural or as smooth as with other native English speakers, it is a different kind of pleasance I’ve never felt before. Each person brings their own thoughts, culture, and breadth of meaning with every sentence, and at the end of the day, we are all enjoying ourselves in the company of others.

What’s surprising is that I’m able to relate to my friends here several degrees more than with many others back in the States. Just a few weeks ago at a thermal spa in Eger, I was conversing with a good friend of mine from Holland, and we delved into topics about jobs, family, and the principles of happiness. Woah. Didn’t expect that one, did ya? Well neither did I at the time. Other experiences like this with friends from Belgium, Germany, Canada, Brazil, and many other parts of the world, have taught me that the world is quite small but full of people who share the same interests, understandings, and profound notions of our lives in this world. Whether it’s at a dinner party at my flat, in a thermal spa on the Buda side of the city, or even at a ruin pub, I continue to meet more people who are subtly shrinking the world for me.

Concisely, the world is much smaller than you think. With an open mind and a willingness to explore, you can find big people in this small world, those that are big enough to teach you something new or to simply impart happiness into your life. I’m lucky enough to have already met many amazing people like this from all over the world, and I can’t wait for what’s in store over the next 4 months.

Eger Thermal Spa

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All Kiiinds of Flexin’ at Flex Gym (Hungary Edition)

Good God. And here I thought I was ready for a real bodybuilding gym. Pumped up, pre-workout shake in hand, and ready to push some heavy weights, I took the local bus over to the Buda side of the city. After 20 minutes of Pantera/Children of Bodom screaming into my ears, I walked into Flex Gym with more confidence than what was actually warranted. Don’t worry folks because that changed as soon as I stepped foot into the front entrance. Like letting go of an untied balloon, my ego deflated real, real quick. All I saw were nice, heavy-duty weights… and Dennis Wolfs everywhere. If you don’t know him, look him up… it’ll give you an idea. In fact, this was the first time I’ve ever felt remotely intimidated entering a gym. 

Fortunately, the owner of the gym, Adam, was a kind enough guy who made me feel a little bit better about where I was. I signed up for a month, and with the student discount, it was no more than about $48/month. As I walked to the locker room, located on the 3rd floor (yes! the gym has 3 friggin’ floors!), I could’ve sworn I saw Evan Centopani 3 times… It isn’t doppleganger week yet, is it?

It was leg day, so I hit the squat rack in an attempt to recondition my lower body. That is, until a giant among men came up to me and asked when I was finished. The last thing I wanted to do was piss off a local, most-likely amateur bodybuilder, so I said “now.” Yes, laugh all you want, but if someone the size of a bear comes up to you with a scrunched up face and subliminally asks you to move, I think you would’ve made the same choice!

Overall though, my gym experience was awesome. Flex Gym is equipped many modern equipment built for bodybuilding and powerlifting. This is perfect for me, and even though I’m usually the smallest person in the gym, their presence simply provides another (gigantic) motivation for me to continue my commitment towards the sport that I love. 

Das right Budapest! I’m still tryna get big even with all that drinkin!

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Drinking, Drinking, and More Drinking

I thought it wasn’t true. There was no way that anyone could handle so much consumption so often. But all the rumors about the excessive, alcoholic-level drinking are nothing short of the truth. Szimpla and Instant have become my homes at night, and the drinking festivities never seem to end. The good thing is that I’ve gotten to know and spend time with many amazing people since my arrival, and every night seems to be special in its own, drunken way.

I’m currently living in a 3-bedroom flat that could honestly fit 3-4 more people with some room to spare. We’re located in the heart of Oktogon, one of the most popular districts in the city center. Our flat can’t be in a better place, strategically located near all the popular ruin pubs and bars that Budapest has to offer. One of my flatmates is a fellow trojan by the name of Alex, and he’s quite a chiller. The other is a Frenchie also by the name of Alex, and the dude is hilarious. Being smushed between two Alex’s, I’d like to say that I’m the nice, wholesome filling that provides the flavor in our flat.

The first week of class was extremely laid-back, and my classes seem at the very least interesting and easy. Currently, I’ve enrolled in: Tourism Management & Marketing, Risk Management, Business Games, Business Intelligence, and Services Marketing. Risk Management, Business Games, and Business Intelligence are the most interesting to me, as they are the most applicable to my professional career. Otherwise, Corvinus has several beautiful buildings next to the Danube that’s worth checking out. I’m also taking these courses with the friends I’ve made here, so I can always count on them to act as my alarm clock when needed.

Well, that’s that! I have to go get ready for Ciprien’s Moustache Party. Where’s my sharpie…

The Most Insane 2 Weeks

I can’t even capture (or remember) all the things I’ve done so far in Budapest. To start, I’ve been living in the Marco Polo Hostel for way too long, almost hitting two weeks. My flatmates and I struggled with about every obstacle possible in searching for a flat, but in the end we’ve settled on an amazing 2-story apartment that we are tentatively dubbing “The Penthouse Palace.” I’ll post pictures of it later.

This is nothing new, but I completely underestimated the amount of drinking that occurs in this country (or continent for that matter). I’ve consumed high levels of alcohol 10/12 of the nights I’ve been here, including going to ruin pubs, hostel parties, dance clubs, and the like. Though my liver tells me to stray away from another night of complete alcoholic slaughtering, I’ve met so many great people so far from countries around the world, including: German, French, Brazilian, Dutch, Russian, Austrian, Italian, Croatian, Greek, Polish, English, Singaporean, and Japanese.

Gyming has been a bit difficult for me, but I found a small basement gym called “Astoria Fitness” right next to my hostel. I’ve been 5 times, some with other people, and it’s been helping me keep off too much fat. But otherwise, I plan on looking into a gym later today once I move into my flat. Gotta start pumpin’ iron again!

Even though I’ve only been in Budapest for 2 weeks, it feels like months. I can’t fathom what living here for 5 months is going to be like. Once I get more time, I’ll post pictures and videos of Budapest!Image